Taken from an originally published work by Dr. Bill Sands that appeared in Technique Magazine 1999 available at this link
What will my child gain by being in gymnastics?
- Pound for pound gymnasts are the strongest athletes in any Olympic sport. Most are small in stature and their strength to weight ratio is very high. However (says the 6’2” guy) gymnastics is open to people of all shapes and sizes.
- Gymnasts are among the most flexible of all athletes. A strict stretching regiment is key to success in gymnastics. Flexibility not only allows performances to be enhanced but reduces the risk of injuries.
- Gymnasts have excellent static and dynamic balance. Gymnasts develop this sense of balance and it is often goes un-noticed.
- Gymnasts have a very defined Interior Orientation System (IOS: awareness of their own bodies in relation to itself) and Exterior Orientation System (EOS: the body’s relation and awareness to this outside the body). I watched a video years ago of several Olympic level gymnasts going through the same training that astronauts have to do. When weightless the trained astronauts floated into walls and ceilings of the zero-grav module; while the gymnasts pushed off surfaces to complete flips and turns never once clunking into a wall or another person.
- Gymnasts have a good understanding of falling safely with minimal or no injury. In high school I tried to play soccer on the team and realized that my best skill was to be able to return to my feet quickly after being tripped or tackled. Other kids also liked to bounce the ball off my head but that’s another story.
- Gymnastics is reasonably safe. A report done on sport reasons that send children (18 years or under) to emergency rooms shows that gymnastics is ranked 47th. Number one for boys is rock climbing (?) and for girls cheerleading.
- Gymnasts tend to do very well in school. Aside from the many posts that I have done that explain the brain development and the effects of gymnastics it should also be mentioned that discipline and time management are study skills that most non-athletes never learn.
- Gymnasts (along with other athletes in other sports) learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, fair play, dedication, perseverance, goal setting and planning.
- Gymnastics shows children that rewards are not accomplished instantly. Hard work is what leads to objectives and goals being met and sometimes they may take years to achieve.
- Drug abuse including alcohol, while not completely unknown, is very limited. Gymnasts have a tendency to see all that they work for being able to be lost by indulging in drugs or drinking.
Suffice to say, the list could be longer but I think that gymnastics is one of the most beautiful sports in the world as well as being one of the best for children. Wouldn’t you agree?